Brut., Digital Media Firm for Millennials and Gen Z, Pushes Into U.S., Raises $40M

Guillaume Lacroix attends the photocall for "Enrages" during the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2015 - Getty-H 2019
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The Paris-based firm says its "socially conscious" videos can replicate what Netflix has done for entertainment and Spotify for music. Says CEO Guillaume Lacroix: "For news, there was no truly global brand — until now."

Brut., a French digital media company serving "socially conscious" news and entertainment videos to millennials and Gen Z, has launched in the U.S. and received $40 million in funding.

The Series B funding comes from the likes of venture capital firms Red River West and blisce, as well as investment banker and LionTree founder Aryeh Bourkoff and private equity financier Eric Zinterhofer, founding partner of Searchlight Capital Partners.

Guillaume Lacroix, founder and CEO of Brut., made the announcement on Wednesday. The company, founded in 2017 and headquartered in Paris, said it would use the capital injection "to continue its worldwide expansion," starting with the U.S. 

Brut. wants its advocacy journalism to lead to conversation around topics that matter most to its target audience, including social impact, the environment, accountability for power, and women and minority empowerment. It prides itself on creating content based on human interest rather than algorithms.

"Conversation has been the biggest revolution in media consumption," said Lacroix. "We are engaging the most aspirational audience — millennials and Gen Zers — and sparking positive social dialogue around key issues."

Brut. says it has an overall global audience of 2 billion in more than 57 countries. It says it reached 10 billion video views in the last year and has 30 million daily active users. "Globally, the company generated 1.1 billion views in September alone across all its platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and more," according to the firm. "Brut. reaches 6 percent of all people aged 18-34 in the world and continues to grow rapidly."

It publishes content in sections from news, international and economy to science/technology, entertainment, sports, health and nature. Among recent stories were ones with such headlines as "The #MeToo Movement, 2 Years Later," "Bill Gates’ Wake-Up Call," "Blankets of Hope for the Homeless" and "Extinction Rebellion Youth Coordinator’s Message to Trump."

Lacroix outlined his team's ambitions by saying: "When traveling the world, if you want to listen to music, you go to Spotify. For television and movies, you go to Netflix. For news, there was no truly global brand — until now."

With 50 percent of millennials and Gen Zers not watching television at all, according to social video analytics firm Tubular, he also said his editorial team's focus is very different from mainstream news media. "Brut. doesn't focus on producing endless cycles that reiterate bad news," he said. "Instead, we favor engagement over views and shine a light on how people are pursuing change — like we did with climate change activist Greta Thunberg in publishing her first viral video. We want what our viewers want — to make the world a better place."

The company is profitable in France in just two years and expects to be profitable in the U.S., where it started making its videos available earlier this year, within a couple of years. Brut. ranked no. 2  behind ABC in the U.S. news and politics segment with 252 million Facebook views in August, ahead of Vice, CNN and others, and says it now ranks in the top three every month. Average monthly views in America in the most recent quarter reached 250 million. Now it is officially launching operations in the U.S. with an editorial team and is looking to build an advertising sales force.

Brut. generates most of its revenue from advertising. "Brut. has partnered with some of the world’s most recognized brands, including Netflix, Airbnb, Ralph Lauren, Nike, BBC News, L’Oreal, LVMH, Kering and Orange," it said. "Through its custom brand partnerships, Brut. engages millennials with authentic stories that lead to action: 76 percent of millennials purchased a product after viewing a Brut. ad video."  

Said Alexandre Mars, founder and CEO of blisce: "Like blisce's previous investments in Spotify, Pinterest and Bird, we believe that Brut.'s unique global approach represents a special competitive advantage, as well as an understanding that business success and positive social impact are inextricably linked."